Blogger Learns Secrets of Great Photography… NOT!

June 8th, 2009

I took a photography class on Saturday. During the class, I learned that in order to properly operate a camera, you need to buy millions of dollars of accessories which are all happily available in the camera store just next door. I also learned that the two lenses that came as a part of my ‘camera package deal’ were the two dumbest lenses ever made for a camera and what I really needed was a lens that the camera teacher referred to with a huge amount of derision in his voice, as a ‘vacation lens’. A vacation lens takes pictures far away and pictures close up. A vacation lens is desirable in situations where you are seeing a lot of different things in a short period of time and don’t want to be encumbered with twelve tons of camera equipment, like when you are on vacation. The trouble is that I am always on vacation. This is my natural state of being. I cannot imagine ever hauling around two lenses and switching them back and forth incessantly just to take a picture. I am far too weak and shaky for that! The mere thought makes me heavy lidded and woozy… and pale… and limp… and sweaty… and very, very tired. When the class was over I marched to the camera store, conveniently located next door and demanded a vacation lens…

Me – I would like to trade these two pathetic, stupid, and moronic lenses that came with my new ‘camera package’ for a vacation lenses.

Salesperson – A vacation lens?

Me – Yes… it takes pictures close up and it takes pictures far away. You don’t have to waste your life switching lenses around.

Salesperson – But your camera package did not include a vacation lens.

Me – I know… but that is only because my camera package was stupid.

Salesperson – No, actually it is because you are stupid.

Me - Yes, I see that now.

Salesperson – This is how we make our money.

Me – I understand.

Salesperson – Stupid people buy expensive cameras with dumb lenses every single day.

Me – I bet they do.

Salesperson – Millions of them!

Me – Okay… well, I just want a vacation lens and I will trade you these two stupid lenses that came with my stupid camera that I, Mrs. Stupid-head bought, for one lens is not stupid.

At this point the salesperson went over and held a long whispered conversation with another salesperson during which they both occasionally glanced my way, nodded, laughed, guffawed, snickered, slapped their thighs while hoohawing with great gusto, rolled on the floor sputtering and spewing forth gales of hilarity and then the salesperson got off the floor and came back over to me.

Salesperson – Here is what I can do. I will take your two ‘stupid’ lenses and give you one vacation lens and then you will pay me five bajillion dollars.

Me – You drive a hard bargain.

Salesperson – Do we have a deal or not?

Me – What choice do I have?

Salesperson – Well… you could sell your new camera on Ebay for about ten percent of what you paid for it! Hawaaaaha Hawahhhhhh Hawahhhhhha!!!

Me – Fine. I’ll take it.

Salesperson – Sold! Now… which moron was next in line? Hwarh Ha Ha!

Before I left, I asked the salesperson what camera setting was best to take photos of the interiors of houses. The salesperson said to set the camera on ‘A’, play with aperture dial and let the camera decide the shutter speed.

Sadly, this is what I heard…

Hawahhhha! HahHAawAhahahhahaWhahHaw!

Next, I asked the salesperson what I should set the camera on to take photos outdoors. The salesperson said to set the camera on ‘P’ and that daylight was the best light to shoot in and please not to to be such a demanding customer ! Can’t you see I have a million more morons standing in line just waiting to buy an enormously expensive camera with two useless lenses that they will not be able to use and will sell at a garage sale in five years for twenty bucks?

Sadly, this is what I heard…

Hawahhhha! HahHAawAhahahhahaWhahHaw Hawrrr Hee Ho Harreareawwww!

I then left the store to drive to Atchison to photograph the home of Mary Carol Garrity knowing full well that if I didn’t get any good shots, I would not be able to post them on MSFH. Mary’s people had requested to see the photos before I post them. Mary Carol Garrity is the owner of several fabulous stores called Nell Hill and Garrity’s that focus on beautiful furnishings, and home decor. She is known for her beautiful displays and her down to earth prices. She also writes a syndicated column on decorating and is the author of several decorating books.

I decided I better practice a little on the way to her home.

I stopped at Ree’s Fruit Farm for some indoor shots…

I put the camera on ‘A’ and twirled that little dial madly to the right and to the left…

twirling, twirling, twirling..

I also stopped at the Taco Den in Meriden for lunch and continued to twirl like a lunatic….



tilt-a-whirl twirling…

twirling, twirling….

Twirling and HURLING!!!

Then on to Nell Hill’s…

Mary’s store.

Where I photographed with the camera on ‘A’ and took eighty photos that look just like the one above…

Then to went to Mary Carol’s house.

Her gorgeous house….

Where I took a thousand more pictures that look just like this one…

Finally, at the end of the tour and the end of my rope, I stepped into Mary’s exquisite walled garden…

And I saw this little statue sitting on a table…

I set the camera on ‘A’ and twirled the dial like a madwoman…

As I left, I realized that I could not possibly blame anyone if all of my photos of Mary’s house are deemed unsuitable for public viewing by Mary’s people.

I have no idea what I am doing and I will never be able to take a decent shot with this dumb, stupid, dumb, old stupid camera!

The end.


  • It’s vexing, isn’t it?

    I was much happier when I just embraced the notion I’ll never be Diane Arbus.

  • Poor you! I think I’ll just stick with my point and shoot camera…

    Love the shots anyway! I really do!

  • Southern Gal:

    After reading PW’s camera tutorials, I’ve decided I’m really not smart enough to own a SLR camera. (I had one years ago and I swear I wasn’t any smarter then, but I took excellent pictures.) Point and shoot for dummies. That’s my kind of camera!

  • Florida Liz:

    That was a tear jerker for sure. I couldn’t see the photos after the first few through the tears of laughter…. OMG. After getting a tissue, I wiped my eyes and read on. 2 more tissues later I finished. The ’tilt- a- whilr twirling’ about did me in. Thanks for the long laugh, and good luck with the photographing. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it.

  • siltedrepose:

    I suspect the secret to great photography is a lot of work. Many things in life seem to turn out like this. It also sounds like the free camera class assumed you already knew how to take pictures and just need to know how this camera worked. More training might be very helpful. I like the pictures of the preserves and the toaster. The ones of the house are nice, too.

  • I’m thinking that I wouldn’t have bough anything from such rude sales people, but your pictures are beautiful.

  • caren:

    I have a “vacation lens” too. I love it!!! I also just bought a macro lens that I love too. But I can’t tell you how many shots I have missed trying to learn my camera. But once you do, it is well worth it. I still use auto a lot! The best advice I have ever received was read the camera’s manual. I never read any manuals for any thing – but finally did for my camera and man what a difference it made.

  • You best get your sorry auto-bum over to the Pioneer Woman’s site and learn about photo-graphy! Good luck.

  • Jenny:

    Oh, honey! You come on over here and we will go get some blueberry-lemon scones.

  • I have no idea who Mary Carol is! Why did you need to take pictures of her house? I mean, it is beautiful…

    I like your pictures!

    You are funny!

  • Lucy:

    OH! The frustrations of learning to use those darn cameras. If I could take an hour for each shot, just maybe I’d get a decent picture. It’s just such a challenge to wrap my mind around getting those settings correct… but, I keep hoping eventually I will get it. Then I have to learn to hold the darn thing still!

  • I have the same issues. I just keep hoping that I’ll learn it in my sleep because at this age I really, truly do not want to learn even one more thing.

  • Amy in West TX:

    I have a point and shoot, and I love it! My daughter has a Nikon digital SLR. It has different lenses. I make her give me the smart lens before I try to use the camera, otherwise I mess it all up. She’s the photographer, she knows how to frame her shots, gets some great stuff. Me, I just aim the camera in the right direction and push the button. No tilt-a-whirl camera stuff for me!

  • Can’t you just sue the teacher of the photography class? Don’t lawsuits make everything better? And who IS Mary Carol?

    • Sorry, I should have explained. Mary Carol Garrity is the owner of several fabulous stores called Nell Hill and Garrity’s that focus on beautiful furnishings, and hme dec. She is known for her beautiful displays and her down to earth prices. She also writes a syndicated column on decorating and is the author of several decorating books.

  • I think your photos turned out beautifully. What do sales people know. Humpft! :)

    come enter my Pay It Forward Contest today. Wanted to share it with bloggers I read daily.

  • DirtyKSmama:

    Oh bummer! I hope you got to enjoy most of your day instead of being frustrated…I would be!
    I think I’ve convinced myself to stick with the “Auto” setting for quite awhile. Maybe someday I’ll have time to learn manual SLR settings, but for now I’d rather be in the moment. Besides, I’m not going to frame or post the pictures – just want the memories. But I try to learn a new setting on my camera once in awhile, like macro, or how much natural light is enough to avoid using the flash.
    Keep it up, use the manual, and just work on one type of photo at a time, and you’ll get it.

  • Oh, Rechelle, you have me in absolute stitches. And have affirmed me in my choice of the trusty ole Canon Powershot ;-)

  • I completely understand your frustration and feelings of inadequacy. I have remained with my trusty point and shoot for fear that I will have spent so very much money on something that I do not actually find enjoyable. I think that one day I might take the leap but for now I’ll just stick to what I know and laugh along with your troubles … :)

  • joann tx:

    my old Canon SLR camera’s not a digital.

    my digital camera is a sony point and shoot!
    it takes great pictures!!!

    it takes pictures close up

    it takes pictures far away.

    mary carol’s house is gorgeous!

    keep up the good work. didn’t see anything wrong with your
    pictures. or the new ones! ;)

  • Now I’ve got “Honey Bun” stuck in my head…..

    I’m speakin’ of my Sweetie Pie,
    Only sixty inches high,
    Ev’ry inch is packed with dynamite!

    Her hair is blond and curly,
    Her curls are hurly-burly.
    Her lips are pips!
    I call her hips ‘Twirly’ and ‘Whirly.’

  • Unfortunately, I cannot see any of your fabulous photos. My computer monitor is from the Paleozoic Era and dispite all my squinting and highlighting, I can’t see anything but dark, swirly forms. I’ll look again with my dh’s laptop when he gets home from work.

    But I’m sure they are fabulous.

  • Kirsten:

    I took some photos in that very garden this weekend.

  • You should check out one of my favorite paper crafter’s site – she did a “photo tour” as well…..

  • susan in FL:

    I have one suggestion for your vacation. TAKE BOTH CAMERAS! Be sure you have the camera you know how to use with you. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to figure out a new camera on a once in a lifetime vacation. Give your old camera to CD to take pictures if nothing else. That way when you are frustrated you can grab it from him and still have good shots.

  • Can Mrs. Mama come over and give you a quick lesson?
    If not, if you bought a Nikon, call me. I will give you a quick lesson on the phone. Seriously.

  • Kellye:

    Now listen – anyone who can put a man through med school while giving birth and raising his babies can master this camera. Let’s take some deep breaths and remember you are smarter than the camera. I bet you can “google” more help than the camera store gave you. You can do this CDW and we are with you!

  • E-Jayjo:

    You’re too funny! Some of those pictures are really good though. I like the garden statue ones especially.

  • Jordan Jacobson:

    I came here fully intending to comment on how I have noticed your mastering of iPhoto, like we discussed a couple weeks ago…


    How can all these people be commenting on JUNE 9TH when it is actually JUNE 8TH!? Rechelle, you are messing with time and space!

  • Barb 1230:

    Oh, Rechelle, I am so with you on this. I just purchased my first SLR a month ago and will be taking my free class this week. Geez, I hope they can teach me something. I am pretty overwhelmed right now. It takes great shots on the auto setting but I want to learn how to manually adjust everything. And I have a feeling it won’t be any time till I’m not too happy with the two lenses I also have.

  • Oh dear! Please keep practicing and then go back to Mary Carols house- I am sure it is fabulous and we need to see pictures of Nell Hill. I am not from around there, but even I have heard glorious things of Nell Hill. (and don’t let camera store talk you into any more lenses until you get the hang of this one)

  • LaVonne:

    Thanks for the absolutely hilarious post! I’m still laughing.

  • I think Andrea, the first commenter, put it about right. My inner photographer just lept off a tall building one day, never to return. I’m sadder, but wiser.

  • Jeanie:

    I think that I just like the idea of becoming a photographer and getting a high dollar camera with all those assorted lenses. That desire lasts only until I read any kind of photography tutorial. At that point, I realize that it is a figment of my imagination that I could ever master anything as complicated as a SLR camera or the functions on an iPod phone. I am a mechanically challenged Baby Boomer that still recites leftie lucy rightie tightie when I turn the water hose off and on. Thanks for making me laugh!

  • The vacation lens will be your lifesaver! Swapping out lenses is ludicrous and will drive you to an early grave.

    For now, stick to AUTO on your camera while you get used to it. It’s fine. You will learn. Not in one day.

    Meanwhile, check out PW’s friend Pastor Ryan’s blog at He is giving a Photo Class this week for people just like you and me that have fancy-ish cameras, but don’t know what to do with the silly A button and dial and want the pretty blur behind in the background, etc. He explains things VERY well, in plain English and uses cool pictures to show you what the heck he’s talking about when he uses big words like aperture, etc.

  • Loved reading this post – it is so frustrating, isn’t it? :) I have that problem with the shots turning out dark inside – but usually do pretty well outside… I knew instantly who Mary Carol is – thanks to finding her books at the library last November – I especially love her book on Christmas Decorating! :) If this CA girl ever makes it out to Kansas, Nell’s Hill is on my list of stops! Good luck with the photography!

  • Oh My Goodness ….. I needed that laugh. You are certifiably nuts!

    So did you buy a vacation lens?

    If you bought a Canon, I can help you out a bit, but I have to tell you, I’d probably be hooting at you twirling all those dials!

  • Melanie:

    I would love to know what you bought….and what you think now. I am in the middle of the great lens debate with my Canon Rebel. It is fun, though:)

  • You’re like me…..I just keep taking the pictures in hopes that I will get one or two that are decent. Keep it up-practice, practice, practice. You did get some great shots though!!! Good job!